Some people want to be mean for different reasons! Some want others to fear them. Others get a thrill from “appearing to be in control.” Some pull out their meanness to keep money flowing into their pockets. Others become mean as they fail to cope with the pressures of life around them. Some glorify being mean – they even seem to take the saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and interpret it to read: “When the going gets mean, the mean get meaner.” But all this “mean machine” behavior is crazy and damages the individual mentally and physically. The person who practices being mean, exacting and harsh is setting himself/herself up for their heart to die within them.
Take for example Saul – the first king of Israel:
1 Samuel 14:23-29,37-45
So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.
And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.
Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.
Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.
Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
There are 4 points I want to share from this story:
1. God was responsible for the victory Israel recieved – 1 Samuel 14:23, but when a person is mean he or she starts to make restrictive laws so as to make it seem as though the victory came through their leadership or administrative wisdom. Although the mean person feverishly tries to scoop up the glory and praise by these unnecessary, mean laws, most times these same laws prove to be a genuine hindrance to progress and happiness to those around.
2. Mean people are usually quick to talk, punish and make oaths about the future. (1 Samuel 14:38-40)
3. Some mean people are so unscrupulous and determined to have things their way they would punish you even when you were not aware of the laws they made. (1 Samuel 14:27,44)
4. Onlookers have a vital role as defenders and peacemakers even to the point of saving family members from each other in cases where meanness has inspired hatred, revenge and stupidity.(1 Samuel 14:45)
Our second example is Nabal from 1 Samuel 25:
1 Samuel 25:2-19,25-28,32-38
And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.
And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.
And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
And when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.
And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
So David’s young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.
And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.
But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.
But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:
They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.
Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.
And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.
And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.
And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.
But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.
1. Mean people are usually quick to answer roughly – (1 Samuel 25:6-11)
2. Good things happen when there are observant persons who are careful enough to care and work quickly to pacify situations that are being escalated by mean persons. (1 Samuel 25:14-17)
3. Good things happen when there are brave individuals who are willing to speak the truth in messy situations that have been created by mean people. (1 Samuel 25:14-17)
4. It is usually very difficult to speak to mean people as they are usually being influenced by Belial. Therefore, quick thinking and wisdom from God are essential in these situations. (1 Samuel 25:17-18)
5. When dealing with mean people and mean systems taking revenge is not the best route – meanness usually tries to inspire others to retaliate with meanness – thus widening the circumference of pain, hurt and evil. (1 Samuel 25:32-35)
6. When you practice meanness your heart literally dies within you and your outlook of life becomes very narrow, “tunnel-visioned” and greed manipulates your mind to a stupid level. 1 Samuel 25:36-38)
Example number three is Jezebel (1 Kings 21)
1 Kings 21:1-19
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
1. Some mean persons behave like they are caring and concerned for your happiness but they are ruthless and will use their position or even your position to accomplish their greedy goals and insatiable desires. (1 Kings 21:5-10)
2. When dealing with persons who have mean agendas and mean tendencies it is important to investigate and ask questions about what they tell you to do and refuse to follow blindly because mean people tend to want to make innocent people actively participate with them in shedding innocent blood. (1 Kings 21:11-14)
3. Why Did Ahab not ask questions? Was his relentless greed to possess blocking his mind? Whether he asked Jezebel or not about why Naboth died – the fact remains that the Lord of lords and King of kings of the entire universe is watching how we treat people and what motivates our decisions. (1 Kings 21:15-19)
Our final example is Herod of Matthew 2:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
1. Some mean people disguise their meanness so it is important for us be careful and in connection with God daily to receive up-to-date advice on the activities that are happening around us. (Matthew 2:3,7-12)
2. Some instructions that you receive from God may seem weird but God is Omniscient [all-knowing] – he warns us for our own protection. (Matthew 2:13-15)
3. Mean people can be so obsessed with power, status, greed and selfishness that they can destroy even little children senselessly. Such actions like Herod’s widespread massacre show that meanness is Satanic. (Matthew 2:16-18)
So what is the take away:
1. Don’t let your heart die within you – be generous and kick your mean-spirited tendencies to the curb.
2. Remember that the Holy Spirit is a gift and this gift is huge and vital to life. Galatians 5:22-26
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
3. Meanness will suck all your energy and destroy your happiness – avoid it and focus on helping others.
4. Pray for any sad system that practices meanness to change – it could be your local grocery that keeps increasing prices every 2 days to keep profits booming or your international bank that keeps creaming off your interest every month. All these sad systems need our prayers because they have a tendency to infiltrate “generally-kind” people to become mean like them.
5. “Mean machine” behavior is crazy and damages the individual mentally, spiritually and physically. 1 Timothy 6:7 – For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
*** All Bible texts quoted above are from the King James Version, unless referenced differently.
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/poverty-men-arm-wealth-begging-96293/